Alan Cumming and Miriam Margolyes on queerness, childhood trauma and exploring Scotland

It sparked all sorts of revelations when the eccentric stars hopped in a van together to rediscover their roots, Georgia Humphreys learned.

Alan Cumming felt very anxious before filming a certain episode of his new series. trip soap opera.

Channel 4’s Miriam and Alan: Lost Scotland The 56-year-old sees the venerable actor wandering around in a mobile home in his hometown of Scotland, with a new friend, 80-year-old theater actress Miriam Margolyes.

Along the way, the couple visited the home where Cummings grew up and had to deal with a “violent and abusive” father, as detailed in their 2014 memoir, Not My Father’s Son.

It’s something you can never get rid of, “you’re just managing the trauma,” she reassures. He found the return to his childhood home “very triggering”.

“I didn’t sleep well the previous night,” continues the star, who won a Tony in the nineties for her performance in Broadway’s Cabaret and is also known for the US drama The Good Wife. “We went there, I was so touched. I couldn’t get in. It was too much.

“Miriam was lovely and very understanding. I was with all this. film crew, so I was very conscious, but it was nice to be there with someone who was kind and caring.”

Traveling to Cumming’s hometown and meeting her mother was also a memorable moment on the shoot for Margolyes, who was born in Oxford.

“He told me a little bit about his early life there and the shocking things he went through as a young boy, and I saw a very different and very serious side of this young man. I found that extraordinarily impressive.”

Admittedly, it’s a surprising pairing to face. TV program.

“Intergenerational friendship is a very interesting thing you don’t see very often,” says Cumming.

“We’re an odd couple, but we had a great time,” she elaborates.

“It was something I really liked about it, encouraging people to think a little more outside the box about who they know, who they travel with, and their experiences.

“When I tell people about it, I’m like, ‘What?! Are you and Miriam Margolyes in a van?’ It was varying degrees of horror and confusion, and it’s actually really cool.

“It’s not generic; it’s really nice to have a less cookie-cutter kind of TV.”

Before making the three-episode show, the duo didn’t know each other very well.

While Cumming was in the early stages of planning a Scottish-themed project with Blink Films, he was also playing a play on Old Vic and appeared on The Graham Norton Show to promote it. On the couch next to her was the similarly “eclectic” Margolyes chatting about her role in the BBC hit Call The Midwife.

“I thought we fought well and thought this would be a good combo, and it did – it worked out really well,” he continues excitedly.

Hollywood stars – Margolyes memorably portrayed Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, Cumming was a Bond villain, Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye – are both of Scottish descent.

This is something they discovered on their picturesque journey that took them from their once shared home in Glasgow to the West coast, the remote Highlands and the East side.

But what really makes Lost in Scotland such a fun and captivating watch is the incredibly intimate conversations while driving together – and it feels real at the same time.

“Miriam shows me parts of her relationship with Scotland and I show her mine and a friendship that just thrives and smiles,” Cumming says.

“There are some very sensitive moments as well. We talk about the big things – getting older, things from my past and my family, and the history of Judaism in Scotland.”

“And being gay and our relationships,” says Margolyes, who won a Bafta in 1994 for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Age of Innocence. “We were very open with each other. It was very personal.”

How touching was it to discuss and celebrate queerness together on TV?

“Actually, I hadn’t really thought about going in, but two old queer people being the host of a show is pretty rare,” says Cumming.

“We’re both very honest and open about everything in our lives, but it’s definitely our sexuality and so I think that’s a positive thing.”

It’s not just Cumming’s family we meet; They also had dinner with some of Margolyes’ relatives in Glasgow, where the lead actor learned how strong his Jewish identity was.

“It was really nice to understand and appreciate that a little more,” Cumming says. “And it was really fascinating to see Jewish life in Glasgow, about which I didn’t know much.”

“I am very proud of both my Jewish heritage and my family,” says Margolyes. “Lovely people. My very old cousin Gloria – I think she’s in her 90s – was there and it was great for me, it made me so happy.”

Other interesting characters the stars meet during their journey include a Gaelic rapper, modern witches and a ‘Zen golfer’. There is also a noble Lady whom Cumming believes may be a distant relative…

“I thought it was an expansion of Scotland and each other at the same time,” says Margolyes.

“We get what we look at and the people we meet – and we were also discovering and learning about each other’s personalities and characters.

“I think it’s very rare to have the pleasure of actually getting along with your colleague.”

Cumming also likes how viewers will see “a holistic view of Scotland, not just the biscuit tin version”.

“I hope it makes people realize that they have a jewel on their doorstep and that they should enjoy the islands, the food, the pictures, the cultural life, the sea. music,” following Margolyes.

“I’m so grateful for that, but I think the audience should be thinking, ‘You know what? It’s there. Let’s go have a look at it’.”

Miriam & Alan: Lost in Scotland begins Tuesday at 9:15 PM on Channel 4.

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